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£4 billion a year will also be directed to a new agency to provide skills and training.

Colleges and sixth forms will be helped to deliver the reforms needed to increase the training and education age to 18 by a £7 billion transfer to local authorities. The Government will also direct £4 billion annually to a new agency to improve skills and training for adults. The move will result in the dissolution of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) by 2010, and place responsibility on local authorities to offer all young people in their area a full range of qualifications.

Colleges and sixth forms will be helped to deliver the reforms needed to increase the training and education age to 18 by a £7 billion transfer to local authorities. The Government will also direct £4 billion annually to a new agency to improve skills and training for adults. The move will result in the dissolution of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) by 2010, and place responsibility on local authorities to offer all young people in their area a full range of qualifications.

The strategy was outlined by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Children, Schools and Families in a White Paper, ‘Raising Expectations: enabling the system to deliver’.

Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said: “We are committed to revolutionising the education system so that it delivers for all young people whatever their interests or abilities. There must be something available for everyone whichever part of the country they live in.”

The new proposals put local authorities in control to provide training and education for young people aged 0-19, and the ability to commission provision to meet demand from employers and young people. By working together with national agencies and the Regional Development Agency, they will provide a funding and planning system for FE colleges and providers. Local authorities will be responsible for delivering the full range of 14-19 entitlements, including the new Diplomas, Apprenticeships and the Foundation Learning Tier.

The demise of the LSC has been widely trailed for months and the news was given a cautious welcome by most. Sue Dutton, Assocation of Colleges Acting Chief Executive, said: “We welcome the positive response to AoC and its member colleges’ proposals that learners are best served by a national funding system and the level playing field for 14-19 funding which will result from Ministry of Government changes, marking the end of the funding gap.

“Colleges support the principle that funding will follow the learner – funding for the same qualification regardless of location and institution. We applaud the fact that learner and employer choice are centre stage within this Green Paper and welcome the possibilities for an enhanced role for colleges where schools are failing – reflecting the strength and quality of college provision.

For adult learners, the LSC will be replaced by the creation of the new Skills Funding Agency to improve the funding process to training providers and colleges. This will make sure the funding is relevant to the training requirements of employers and learners.

The director of business development for Creative Careers, Jonathan Ovendon, said: “This announcement means the focus is on the demands of learners and employers, making the link between education, skills and jobs much more streamlined, lessening the focus on rules, regulations and audits.”

Mr Ovendon continued: “It’s great to see a more cohesive approach to secondary and Further Education. This will help ensure that the UK’s skills gap are met, leading to a more competitive country and economy.”

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